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Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. Substance use disorder is defined as a “complex condition in which there is uncontrolled use of substance despite harmful consequence.” Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive, psychoactive opioid drug. It is made from morphine, which is derived from the opium plant, poppy. The way heroin works is by rapidly entering one’s brain and binding to one’s opioid receptors. Opioid receptors are neurotransmitters that help to regulate the perception of feelings (e.g., pleasure, pain, etc.) in addition to other functions such as controlling heart rate, sleeping, and breathing. It is classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, which is defined as a substance “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Heroin is among the most addictive substances available.

An individual that struggles with heroin addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her drug cravings above all else. This can affect not only the individual’s physical wellbeing, but also have adverse consequences in all areas of his or her life (e.g., legal complications, relationship issues, financial strain, difficulty maintaining employment, etc.). It is not uncommon for the loved ones of an individual that actively struggles with substance abuse to feel helpless. The first step in supporting someone addicted to heroin is to help them recognize they have a problem. An individual can only begin to recover from an addiction to heroin by coming to the realization that they need and are open to receiving help. 

Begin by allowing your loved one to assume responsibility for their behaviors. This can be accomplished when you actively choose to stop being an enabler. According to Healthline, “the term ‘enabler’ generally describes someone whose behavior allows a loved one to continue self-destructive patterns of behavior.” Continue to express sincere concern without judgment for your loved one’s wellbeing. It is nearly impossible to recover from a heroin addiction without ample support. Reinforce the notion that accepting help is a sign of strength and consistently encourage them to pursue treatment. 

Every individual is different and will respond in a somewhat nuanced fashion when it comes to treatment for heroin addiction. As the loved one of an individual embarking on treatment for addiction issues, it is helpful to understand that the recovery process can be time consuming and will likely require an individual to change many aspects of his or her life. The support, education, coping mechanisms, life skills and more that an individual will likely glean from participating in a formal substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program will provide a solid foundation for recovery. This, in turn, will offer an individual the greatest chance for continued success in maintaining long-term sobriety. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.

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